JCHR to examine historic treatment of unmarried mothers in adoption inquiry 

The Joint Committee on Human Rights holds the opening session of its new inquiry into the adoption of children of unmarried women between 1949 and 1976 tomorrow Wednesday 24 November when it takes evidence from academic experts in historic adoption.

Between 1949 and 1976, a range of historic practices led to unmarried mothers placing their children up for adoption. While parental consent was a legal requirement for an adoption to take place, there may have been other factors that led to women feeling they had little choice. This could include societal stigma around single mothers with an illegitimate child, inadequate levels of welfare support and a lack of information about where to get help. Direct pressure from family, peer groups, medical practitioners, and other social or religious institutions may also have unduly influenced decisions on adoption.

In this opening session of the inquiry, the Committee will examine the adoption practices, and wider societal or familial influences, that led to unmarried mothers putting their child up for adoption. It will also look at the legacy of those decisions and the impact it has had on mothers and children in the ensuing decades.